I’m preparing to teach the Epistle to the Galatians in Sunday school, and as I worked through the first chapter, I was taken aback by a simple observation that I made in the text. Paul, at a very early stage of ministry, understood just how dire the world situation really was. Many New Testament scholars hold that Galatians was the earliest epistle of Paul. In other words, as Paul began the gospel ministry, a ministry filled with what one might say was optimism at the prospect of a fruitful labor, he knew all too well the lost condition of man as well as the evil age in which he ministered. He wrote in 1:4 of Jesus Christ, “who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age.” Paul explains the reality that man is lost in his sins and that Christ died a substitutional death “for our sins.” Christ did this, Paul says, in order to deliver us from “this present evil age.”
Most of us who have pastored for a while remember the optimism of beginning pastoral ministry. We were going to make the world a better place! As we labored for years, we understand more and more just how evil our age really was. Pastors do not labor for years only to come to the conclusion, “The world is not as evil as I used to think.” On the contrary! Paul knew it very well as he began the work.
It is a good reminder to us no matter where we are in the process. The world isn’t getting better, but Christ died for sinners in order to rescue us. He will one day come and take us away with him, away from this present evil age. Amen.