From This Evil Age

In his epistle to the Galatians, Paul writes that he was commissioned as an Apostle by the same God who raised Jesus from the dead and “delivered us FROM THIS EVIL AGE.” This statement anticipates his response in Chapters 1 and 2 to certain “men from Jerusalem” that were operating as if the old era with its types and shadows was still in effect for the people of God. These men were insisting that Gentile believers must get circumcised, and they were challenging Paul’s authority and credentials.

In the first two chapters, he details how he received his Gospel for the Gentiles by direct revelation, and the receipt of his office from Jesus himself was confirmed after the fact by the leaders of the Jerusalem church.

Sun Rising - Photo by David Jusko on Unsplash
[Photo by David Jusko on Unsplash]

Paul also recounts that during an earlier controversy at Antioch, “false brethren slinked in to spy out our freedom which we have in Christ Jesus,” claiming that Gentiles must conform to certain Jewish practices to become full and equal members of the covenant community - (
Galatians 2:4-5).

And in Antioch, the men “from Jerusalem” taught that it was improper for Jewish followers of Jesus to have table fellowship with uncircumcised Gentiles. But a church divided along ethnic lines would be the inevitable result if Gentiles adopted circumcision and other rituals required by the Levitical regulations.

  • 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!” - (Galatians 1:1-5).

Customarily, he began his letters with salutations and gracious words of thanksgiving, but in Galatians, Paul’s statements are noteworthy for their brevity and lack of praise for the church.

And instead of commendations, he launches into a stinging rebuke, indicating the depth of his concern and agitation (“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in grace!”).

He defines his apostleship by first using a double negative in the Greek sentence (“neither from men nor through man”), which is followed by a positive affirmation (“but through Jesus Christ”). In this way, he introduces a key issue that is addressed in the next several paragraphs - his divine appointment to the apostolic office, and his commission to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles - (Galatians 1:10–2:10).

His Jewish opponents did not dispute his office but claimed his apostleship was derived from human authorities, presumably, the church leadership in Jerusalem. But he denied that his commission was dependent on any human authority. Instead, he insisted that he received it directly from Jesus - (1 Corinthians 9:1, Acts 9:4-6, 22:7, 26:16).


From its beginning, Paul’s ministry has focused on proclaiming the Gospel to the Gentiles without requiring them to conform to the regulations of the Torah, especially circumcision and calendrical observations- (Acts 9:15, 13:46-48, 22:21, Ephesians 3:1-8).

Unlike his opponents, he was commissioned by the RISEN JESUS. And this is why in his opening paragraph he emphatically links his Gospel to the “Father…who raised Jesus from the dead.” He was the one who confronted Saul of Tarsus on the Road to Damascus and tasked him with bringing the Good News to the nations.

Moreover, his resurrection was an apocalyptic event that signaled the commencement of the messianic age. On the Cross, the “powers and principalities” that enslaved humanity were defeated decisively, and by his death AND his resurrection, he “rescued us from this evil age.”

Thus, his being “raised from among the dead” marked the inauguration of an entirely new era and the final stage in God’s redemptive plan. Ever since, nothing can or ever will be the same again - (1 Corinthians 2:5-8, Ephesians 1:17-23, Colossians 2:15, 1 Peter 3:22).

Paul writes from this apocalyptic perspective when he exhorts followers of this same Jesus not to subject themselves again to the “elementary spirits of this world.” They will do so if they submit to circumcision and place themselves under the calendrical rituals of the Torah.


Jesus is the one who “gave himself ON ACCOUNT OF our sins.” His death was necessary because of the sins of humanity that alienated men from God. The same idea is implicit in two declarations by Paul in this Letter:

  • 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” - (Galatians 2:20).
  • Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse  ON ACCOUNT OF  (huper) us” - (Galatians 3:13).

His death was “according to the will of our God and Father.”  This emphasizes the magnitude of what God did. The crucifixion was no mistake or an ad hoc reaction to later events. If believers place themselves under the Law, they risk the loss of this great “grace and peace” granted to them by their “God and Father.”

By the death of His Son, God delivered His saints from the existing “evil age.” In the Hebrew Bible, history is divided into two ages - the present evil age and the age to come. The law belongs to the “present age.” It is part of the old order that began “to pass away” with the resurrection of Jesus – (1 Corinthians 7:31).

By emphasizing his death and resurrection, Paul highlights the all-sufficiency of the death of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and the deliverance of believers from this “present evil age.” In him, God acted decisively, impacting human history forevermore.


Absent Church?

Pentecost and the Last Days