The Exalted Status of Jesus in Galatians 1:1-5

The opening of Paul’s first letter, Galatians, has a high view of Jesus.  I see five christological points to make:

(1) Jesus is more than a mere man.  Paul contrasts his apostleship as being “not from men nor through man” but “through Jesus Christ…” (Gal 1:1).  Paul certainly believed in the humanity of Jesus (see Gal 4:4; Phil 2:7-8; Col 2:9), but he believed that authority from Jesus was different from the authority of people who were men only.  Jesus is both divine and human.

(2) Jesus is risen from the dead.  The Father is the one “who raised him from the dead” (Gal 1:1).  This vindication is something no other dead person has received.  Jesus received a glorified body when the Father raised him, while all other dead people await their resurrected bodies (see 1 Cor 15:23).

(3) Jesus is a source of grace and peace.  “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal 1:3).  Jews believed that grace and shalom came from God, and here Paul–a Jew!–says that they come from the Father and the Son, a dual source.  Paul did not abandon monotheism when he became a Christian.  Rather, his understanding of God’s being now included the exalted person of Jesus.  For Paul, saying grace and peace came from God was the same as saying that they came from the Father and the Son.

(4) Jesus and the Father are united in purpose.  Since the Son is exalted with the Father, it makes sense that they are not persons with different plans.  Rather, there is harmony and unity between the Father and Son.  Paul’s authority came from Jesus and the Father (Gal 1:1), grace and peace came from the Father and Jesus (Gal 1:3), and Jesus died for our sins in obedience to the Father’s will (Gal 1:4).

(5) Jesus is Lord.  Paul calls Jesus “the Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal 1:3).  Paul doesn’t use that title in 1:1, but its use in 1:3 further bolsters his exalted view of Jesus.  Jesus is the ruler, the sovereign, the king.  He is Lord of all.

The exalted status of Jesus was no late invention of the early church.  It is clear that the introduction to Paul’s first letter demonstrates a high christology.  As a representative of the early church’s teaching, Paul believed Jesus was the risen Lord who was united in glory and power with the Father.

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