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What does “present evil age” mean in Galatians 1:4?

present evil age

In Galatians 1:4, the apostle Paul writes that Christ “gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” Here, Paul introduces the purpose of the sacrificial death of Christ, the nature of the world we inhabit, and the eternal plan of God the Father. In obedience to the Father’s will, Christ voluntarily gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age.

To appreciate the significance of Christ’s saving work, we must first understand our own depravity. In Scripture, sin is defined as falling “short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This suggests a moral standard that we are unable to meet. The reason we cannot live up to the righteousness that God demands from us is that we are sinners both by nature (Psalm 51:5) and by choice (John 3:19). Christ is the only solution to our sin problem. In Him, we are delivered from our sins and from “the present evil age” (Galatians 1:4).

The phrase present evil age refers to the current reality that the world is in the grip of Satan. Sin is rampant in our world, and sinners are enslaved to the bondage of sin. In Ephesians 2:1–3, Paul says, “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (ESV). Since dead people cannot raise themselves to life, God must make us spiritually alive. In Christ, we are “blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom [we] shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15, ESV).

Freedom from the present evil age has profound implications for how we live. God calls us to live Christ-centered lives in the present evil age. This is accomplished by adopting the mind of Christ, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6–8, ESV). To avoid being corrupted by the present evil age, then, we must humble ourselves by allowing God to work in and through us. Consequently, people will “see [our] good works and give glory to [our] Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, ESV).

The age in which we live is indeed evil, but the description also contains the word present. There is another age yet to come, one that will be characterized by righteousness and justice, not sin (see Isaiah 9:7). Living in the present evil age, those who have been rescued have a wonderful future ahead of them.

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What does “present evil age” mean in Galatians 1:4?
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This page last updated: April 23, 2024