The whole edifice of Christian truth and doctrine stands or falls on the validity of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. If there is any question or doubt concerning the historical reality of the bodily resurrection of Christ as taught in the scriptures, there is no salvation, no forgiveness of sins, no heaven to anticipate, and, as Paul so forthrightly states, ‘we are of all men most miserable’, 1 Cor. 15. 19. He then asserts the great truth which echoed forth from the empty tomb and reverberates down the centuries of time, ‘But now is Christ risen from the dead’, v. 20.
The resurrection was such a momentous event that we are not surprised to discover all three persons of the Godhead actively involved in its accomplishment. The Lord Jesus spoke a number of times to His disciples of the suffering He would endure at the hands of men, leading to His death. On each occasion, however, He made known that He would rise again. In John chapter 10, the Lord made His authority in respect of His death and resurrection very clear, ‘I lay down my life, that I might take it again … I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again’, vv. 17, 18. At the commencement of His public ministry, responding to the challenge of the Jews as He cleansed the temple, He said, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up’, John 2. 19. This One, in whom was life intrinsically, 1. 4; the Son who quickeneth whom He will, 5. 21; whose voice could raise the dead, both spiritually, v. 25 and bodily, vv. 28, 29; Himself exercised that divine right in resurrection, to live ‘after the power of an endless life’, Heb. 7. 16.
Throughout the earthly pathway of the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit was always in evidence. In that mysterious and miraculous conception, the word to Mary was, ‘The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee’, Luke 1. 35. To Joseph it was revealed that the child conceived was ‘of the Holy Ghost’, Matt. 1. 20. The Spirit was seen at His baptism and for His time of temptation it was the Spirit who led Him into the wilderness, Luke 4. 1, from where He came forth, ‘in the power of the Spirit’, v. 14. At Calvary, it was ‘through the eternal Spirit’ that He offered Himself, Heb. 9. 14, and in resurrection, the One who ‘once suffered for sins … being put to death in the flesh’, was ‘quickened by the Spirit’, 1 Pet. 3. 18. There is a difference of opinion between expositors where some would question the KJV in indicating that this was a work of the Holy Spirit, rather than a reference to the Lord’s human spirit, i.e., ‘quickened in spirit’. However, it seems inconceivable to imagine that in the Spirit-filled, Spirit-controlled life of the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit would have no part in the resurrection!
All of which brings us to our subject verse in Galatians chapter 1, where the resurrection is clearly seen as a work attributed to the Father. It is interesting to observe, that in an Epistle where the sufficiency of the death of Christ is paramount to the doctrine being taught, this is the only direct reference to the resurrection. This opening verse, however, establishes the foundation upon which the teaching of the Epistle is developed.
Questions were being raised and seeds of doubt were being sown among the Galatian churches regarding the authority of the apostle. Did he have the recognized qualifications? Had he taken it upon himself to become a teacher? Was his calling and appointment authentic? To answer his critics and refute their suggestions, Paul establishes his credentials in the opening verse. The first five verses are, in fact, one sentence, such was the passionate emotion which gripped him. We can almost see the whites of his knuckles as he grips the quill and, with his inspired thoughts running ahead, he writes with his own hand, 6. 11; no scribe needed here!
Paul commences with a direct statement of his apostleship, he was a ‘sent one’. His authority, however, was not granted by men, whatever their status, 2. 6. Neither indeed did he receive it from any individual or human agent. But, rather, it was a commission conferred upon him directly from heaven. The ‘but’ is apparently emphatic to accentuate the contrast between that which was being circulated by the sceptics and what was in fact the truth.
Both the source and the means of bestowal, Paul says, were ‘by Jesus Christ, and God the Father’. The construction is such as to indicate, not a diversity of action, but, on the contrary, a confirmation of unity and equality within the persons of the Godhead.
No legalistic Jew could ever rob Paul of his Damascus Road experience. He had seen and heard the risen Christ and would recount it when occasion and opportunity demanded. But to add emphasis to the Epistle he was about to write, he reinforces his case by claiming supreme authority from God, who is also the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. Furthermore, should any continue to question the apostleship of Paul, he appeals to the ultimate confirmation of the Father’s approval of the completeness of the work of His Son - He raised Him from the dead. No need to supplement His work by circumcision or laws graven in stone. Rather, he will say, ‘Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free’, 5. 1.