Paul’s style throughout Galatians is great. He has been a servant of Jesus Christ for years but still writes with such passion and urgency as if he is just coming back from meeting Christ on the way to Damascus. He knows what is at stake with the churches in Galatia who have fallen prey to false teachers and have subsequently turned from the gospel, and in so doing, have turned from the one who has called them.
He make God’s grace an emphasis of the letter–that God has called us, that Christ gave himself for our sins, that he has delivered us, and that any work that is required of us has been accomplished, therefore our works can not contribute to our being saved. He emphasizes grace through and through. Sometimes it is bold and confrontational as he challenges these churches, like when he quickly jumps into the meat of the letter with words like “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ” or when he calls them “fools” for now trying to bring in some sort of works righteousness into a gospel of grace.
But sometimes his lifting up of God’s grace, his movement to us and for us when we cannot merit it, is more subtle. It sounds almost offhanded in 4:9. Paul writes about the difference between where we all once were, enslaved to false gods, compared to being heirs of God. He writes, “But now that you have come to know God, or rather be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, who slaves you want to be once more?”
I love this verse. We are reminded even in knowing God that he has initiated. He is the one who has begun all things and he is also the one who has done all things for us. We have not come to know God, but to be known by him. How humbling is the verse, and for that matter, this whole book? We can never measure up to God nor can we ever merit his love. But he has called us by name, he has made us his own. Because of the death of Jesus Christ we can be freed from slavery to false gods and embrace the free grace of God.