Galatians 1:3, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.”
We notice three wonderful truths in this passage.
1). Jesus Gave Himself For Our Sins
The Lord Jesus Christ “gave Himself for our sins.” What does it mean that He “gave Himself”? We may be familiar with the words described as “the gospel in a nutshell” in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”. The truth in that verse is that God gave us His Son to die for us on the cross. The wording here is different. It states that Jesus “gave Himself” rather than God gave Him. He willingly came into the world with the intention of giving Himself up to death on a cross.
The Lord Jesus Christ “gave Himself for our sins.” There is great significance in Paul’s use of the term “for” which is “huper” (“on behalf of” or “for the sake of” ) in the Greek New Testament. It may be helpful to see my previous articles Nos 147 and 148 showing how that word is used in the New Testament. They will show that His giving of Himself cannot be ignored. In some way our sins necessitated His giving Himself. We now see why.
2). Jesus Gave Himself … To Deliver Us From The Present Evil Age
There is a connection between “our sins” and “the present evil age.” It is because we are sinful by nature and we live in a sinful age and environment. In brief there is sin within us and all around us, always. But God has done something about it through the death of His Son. Jesus died to bring victory in two ways. Through His giving of Himself He made forgiveness of sins available to all who received it through receiving Him. So they are delivered from the penalty due to them because of their sin. But there is a dynamic element in this as well. His giving of Himself made it possible to those who embraced His death to have victories over the power of evil, even as they lived by the power of His Spirit in the present evil age.
The same expression “gave Himself” is also found in the following two verses. They express similar truths but each verse adds a little more meaning to the overall message of Jesus’ death on the cross. They add to our understanding of the meaning of the term that Jesus came to “deliver us from the present evil age”.
i). 1 Tim 2:5-6.For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all …. . The word for “ransom” here is (antílutron). It is the only time it is used in the New Testament. It refers to the payment of a price to bring freedom. Jesus gave Himself to bring freedom to those who were in bondage. The prefix “anti” is seen by many to denote an element of substitution. In other words He bore the punishment that sinners should have borne for their own sins. He did it for their sake so that they might become free.
There are other references to “ransom” but they come from a similar word, (lutron). Mat 20:28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” AND Mar 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” In seeking to serve His fellow humans Jesus sacrificed His life to set them free.
The verb form of “lutron” is lutroō translated as “redeem”. It is used of Jesus in Luk 24:21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. The travellers on the road to Emmaus were joined by the risen Christ whom they failed to recognise. They told Him that they had hoped that Jesus was the one who had come to bring freedom to the Jewish nation, but His death had shattered their dream. It was a case of two disciples of Christ telling a living Christ about a dead Christ! Soon after they discovered that Jesus was the One who had joined them on the road. They discovered that He was alive and was indeed the Messiah who had come (as they had hoped) to redeem Israel.
There is no reference in Paul as to whom the ransom was paid. The emphasis is upon the freedom gained and upon the death of Jesus to accomplish that freedom. However the following verses give us some indication of the results of His death. It was to set free those under the law to enable them to become the children of God, Gal 4:5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
ii). Titus 2:13-14. waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
There was a dynamic element to the redemption. Paul refers to that in verse 14. By trusting in Jesus’ death for them, believers would be enabled to change from living lives characterised by lawlessness to becoming more pure. The dynamic would also be seen in their becoming more motivated to live for Him and to do the goods works He had for them to do.
3). Jesus’ Gave Himself …. According To The Will Of Our God
1:4, “… the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins … according to the will of our God and Father.”
There are many critics of the church today who try to argue that if there is a God, then He is immoral. In their understanding He gave up His innocent Son to die for sinful people. They consider that to be immoral. However the verse reminds us that Jesus was not an unwilling victim who was handed over to do the Father’s will. Rather He gave Himself to do the will of his Father.
We read of the decision Jesus reached in the Garden of Gethsemane as He faced His imminent death. He abhorred the thought of becoming sin for humankind. But He was perfectly motivated to do the Father’s will. His cry in Luke 22:42 (“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done”) was not motivated by an inner struggle to choose to do His Father’s will. Rather it was the thought of the desolation He would feel from the Father as He bore the sin of the world. His pure soul shuddered at such a terrible but necessary prospect. His cry to His Father was the declaration of His committed intention to fulfil the Father’s will for Him no matter what suffering that entailed.
The writer to the Hebrews expressed what was involved in the death of Jesus on the cross. He wrote of Jesus in Heb 12:2, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Jesus knew that He would have to endure suffering and mocking as He hung on the cross. He knew that He would be seen as a despised shameful figure as He hung there in utter weakness. But He also knew that beyond the horrific suffering on the cross there would be victory as He rose triumphant over sin and death. That victory would become available to the people of God through faith in Him. He would also return to glory with the Father. For that reason He gave Himself so that He might enter into the joy that was set before Him as He overcame evil and death and made forgiveness and eternal life available to the people of God throughout the ages.
What incredible treasure there is for us in these words as we come to understand them, “(Jesus) … gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” Gal 1:4.
Blog No. 152. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Monday 21st July 2014.
Amazon Kindle books authored by Jim Holbeck:
1. The Searching And Knowing God Who Loves And Cares: Reflections on Psalm 139.
2. The Godly Reward for True Humility. Studies in St Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians.
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